Cushing waterfront landowners get big tax break

Posted May 30, 2013, at 2:20 p.m.

CUSHING, Maine — Dozens of people who own waterfront properties finally won a round of tax abatements from the town.

The Cushing Board of Assessors agreed Wednesday night to reduce the valuation of land owned by 37 different property owners by 37 percent.

The abatement will cost the town about $80,000 in lost property tax revenues.

Attorney Paul Gibbons of Camden, who represented the property owners, said Thursday he had not yet talked with his clients since the board made its unanimous decision. The landowners sought to have their land values reduced by 55 percent.

He said he doubted his clients would appeal to court to try for the full 55 percent.

The residents have tried unsuccessfully for two years to have the values lowered, arguing that the town had the lots greatly overvalued because of the decline in the real estate market.

The properties, created in 2005-2006 by developer James Tower, include Hornbarn Hill, Gaunt Neck and Meduncook Plantation. The town and Tower have clashed in court over a variety of issues.

Machias Savings Bank foreclosed on undeveloped lots owned by the developer in 2008 and at that point owned half of the 50 lots. The bank has sold some lots to abutters and others through foreclosure sales but remains the largest owner with 15 lots.

Gibbons noted the bank tried for 18 months to sell off those lots at a third less than what the town had them valued at. It was unable to sell them.

The abatement request is for 2011 property taxes.

The same group of landowners lost its request for a 20 percent abatement for 2010 and filed a lawsuit in March 2012 in Knox County Superior Court. That lawsuit is pending in court.

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